Join the discussion: Why do members of the LDS Church disapprove of President Obama?

Compiled by Bethan Owen

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, July 14 2014 8:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014 11:30 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama walk past each other on stage at the end of the last debate at Lynn University, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, in Boca Raton, Fla.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press

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Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have lower approval ratings for President Obama — 18 percent — than any other major religion, according to a new Gallup poll.

The low approval rating amongst Mormons is “colored no doubt by the President’s defeat of Mormon Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election,” wrote Leslie Larson of the Daily News.

The poll collected information from over 88,000 interviews conducted over the first six months of 2014. The ranking of approval from each religion — Muslims with the highest rate, followed by other non-Christians, Jews, Atheists, Catholics, Protestants and other Christians all the way down to Mormons — is the same approval lineup that Obama has had since he first took office, according to Gallup.

“There is some inherent irony here in the fact that Obama himself is a Christian,” wrote Matt Wilstein of Mediaite. “And … polls have shown that up to 30 percent of Republicans believe the president is Muslim.”

The numbers should not necessarily be taken at face value, some have said.

“It's important to note a few things,” wrote Abby Ohlheiser of The Wire. “First, America's Muslim population is not very large. Same goes for the country's Jewish population.”

It’s important to keep in mind the size of these religious groups when considering the meaning of the data, Ohlheiser wrote. While it may seem that Obama has a strong base in the Muslim community and very little support amongst Mormons, neither the Muslim nor Mormon populations of the U.S. are very statistically significant. Additionally, the poll, while recent, might not be taking all current events into consideration.

“Gallup’s latest polling relies on data taken through June 2014, whereas the opinion of President Obama among many Muslim-Americans may have changed in the weeks since,” according to the news site Russia Today. “Earlier this month in July, journalists at The Intercept published a report based off of leaked National Security Agency documents revealing that the Obama administration has spied on no fewer than five prominent Muslim-Americans using the capabilities of the NSA’s vast surveillance apparatus.”

Approval ratings from all these belief systems have lowered in recent years, however. These changes in approval over time tend to be seen uniformly in all groups.

“As Obama's overall job approval rating has had its ups and downs over the five-plus years he has been president, his ratings among religious groups have moved in tandem,” wrote Gallup. “That is, Americans of various faiths seem to react similarly to the factors that cause the president's popularity to wax and wane, rather than reacting in idiosyncratic ways tied to their religious beliefs.”

Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2

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